skill-based routing (SBR)

Skill-based routing (SBR) is a component of automatic call distributor (ACD) systems that filters and directs incoming inquiries to call center agents with the most applicable skill sets.

Skill-based routing (SBR) is a component of automatic call distributor (ACD) systems that filters and directs incoming inquiries to call center agents with the most applicable skill sets.

By closely matching an incoming call to the call center agent best-prepared to address a particular issue, callers experience shorter wait times and faster resolution of their issues, reducing average handle time (AHT). Because agents are trained for more specific skill sets, less training is required. Furthermore, the most highly-skilled agents can be assigned to important clients, targeting resources where they will provide the most return for the call center. These factors significantly reduce abandon rates and increase agent utilization, productivity and overall call center efficiency.

In a SBR system, a caller is assigned to an agent based upon a wide range of potential criteria, including:

  • The telephone number that was used to initiate the call
  • The identity of the caller or the caller's number
  • Choices made on the interactive voice response (IVR) system

Automating the process of agent allocation means that call center managers don't have to manually assign agents with certain skills to different queues throughout the day. Skill-based routing also has benefits in terms of employee satisfaction, allowing agents to develop specific areas of expertise.

Critics of SBR point out that the necessarily high complexity of the systems and related implementation costs may not provide a high ROI for call centers.

This was first published in June 2007

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